Home PodcastInayet Wadee Interview with ANC’s Presidential Candidate, Dr. Zweli Mkhize

Interview with ANC’s Presidential Candidate, Dr. Zweli Mkhize

by Salaamedia Intern
Dr. Zweli Mkhize could become the ANC’s next president Photo Twitter/DrZweliMKhize

South Africa – The upcoming elective conference in December is a major one for the African National Congress. President Cyril Ramaphosa has a strong opposition in the form of former Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize. 

Mkhize was picked by the KZN ANC as a candidate to become the new president of the ANC. He sat down with Inayet Wadee, senior presenter at Salaamedia, to talk about his prospects, ambitions and vision should he win at the conference.

As the cost of fuel, basic essentials and goods rise, so does the cost of living. South Africans are currently suffering trying to live from month to month. These matters need to be given attention. Only by fixing the economy and the government can the lives of the people improve.

“There has to be some form of intervention that we take to try and make the lives more bearable for our people … This is about making sure our economy is transformed to give us the ability to serve each and every one of us. Giving us a better life. My acceptance has been on the basis that I think we have to do something to fix the economy so that the lives of the people can be improved.”


How Mkhize plans to fix the issues

South Africa’s economy is currently stagnating due to loadshedding and the high unemployment rate. Eskom is slowly crumbling before the taxpayer’s eyes and the economy is showing very slow signs of growth. These are issues Mkhize plans to fix by ensuring a steady supply of electricity as well as providing jobs.

“We must fix Eskom. Bring in new expertise to fix Eskom and also to accept that we have to keep a balance between coal and all the other renewables. We need to focus on job creation. Talk to the private sector and together with the government, we can actually put together a huge infrastructure programme addressing the social infrastructure. This for me is an urgent issue that we can do to stimulate the economy … We need to build entrepreneurship in African townships and the rural areas. Bring some of the industries closer to where the people are. All of this will help to address the problem of unemployment.”

One of the key issues that need to be tackled is the high crime rate. South Africa is known as the rape capital of the world. Between April to June 2022, 855 women and 243 children were killed. According to Statista Research Department, South Africa had the fifth highest organised crime index in Africa. Mkhize believes the high crime rate and unemployment can be tackled together.

“We need to work together to deal with crime. Crime cannot be dealt with by only police. We need to organise every district, religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society, to work together with government on how to address the drugs, the murders, the gender-based violence. Working together and linking it up with job creation and rehabilitation.”

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Dealing with corruption 

For any of these solutions to actually work, corruption needs to be put to a stop. Mkhize understands this and his goal is to ensure the state capture report is adhered to as well as sorting out the problems within the ANC and government.

“The state capture report must be implemented. Hand it over to the prosecutors, investigators and let them deal with it without fear or favour so we can clean up the government … We need to bring back strong party discipline. People must be decent, respect the people, be humble and all the leaders must be accountable to the people. If you have a united party, you can deal with people who are corrupt or ill-disciplined. You won’t take sides. There is only one side.”


A leaderless ANC

It is fair to say the ANC looks leaderless from the outside. Instability has grown within the party, factions are now appearing as well and infighting is occurring. It is hard to back a party that has no uniformity to it. Mkhize has served the ANC as a “regional leader, as a provincial leader, as a national leader”. Is this enough to lead South Africa?

“As a leader you must be firm on the principles of Justice, integrity and making sure that people deliver and serve our people in humility. That’s been my track record. Factionalism is a problem. It’s a way of protecting wrongdoing … leaders mustn’t talk about two things. One side they want unity and on the other side they encourage functionalism. You can’t use money to buy members and votes in the party that is actually breaking down the morality in the party. All of these things need to be dealt with.”


ANC policies 

Experts agree the economic policies put in place by the ANC have done little to help the economy. In fact, some argue it is the result of these policies that the economy has not grown. They are policies that do not promote economic growth and need to be revised. However, Mkhize believes the policies are right but are not being implemented properly, blaming corruption and bad governance for how badly the policies have been implemented.

“The policies are good. I believe that the ANC is right as a vehicle to transform our society and the economy … The ANC has given us policies which are good. Which can transform [the economy] but because they are not implemented [properly] now let’s get leaders who are going to go and implement it properly.”

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Mkhize and Digital Vibes

Between January 2020 and February 2021, Digital Vibes received a total of R150 million from the Department of Health. This money was intended to be used for the National Health Insurance (NHI) campaign as well as vital communications around the Covid-19 pandemic. Very little of these finds were used for their exact purpose. Mkhize has maintained his stance that he is innocent and was not involved throughout the entire investigation.

“This issue was raised by the auditor general in December 2020 and it was my responsibility to ensure that it was investigated. I initiated the investigation. On the 26th of May I announced all the findings that, yes there was irregularity in this procurement and that we were going to discipline the staff who are involved and we’re going to recover the money that was involved.”

He further stated he handed the report to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and appeared before the president. A few days after that his family was implicated in the matter. Mkhize doesn’t believe his family had any direct ties to the tender that was handed out.

“I did everything that a responsible leader needs to do to distance themselves from acts of corruption and make sure that it is properly handled … Although the family was not themselves part of the contract with the Department of Health. They’re not part of Digital Vibes, they’re not subcontractors of Digital Vibes but because they traded somewhere, that gave a wrong impression. I distanced myself from the investigation. I said I’ll hand it over and inform the SIU that I will stand away from it.”

The report was then submitted to the president. Mkhize differed with the SIU on the fact that he was involved in Digital Vibes getting the tender. SIU felt Mkhize was conflicted on the issue because his son was involved in the investigation.

“Now the issue of conflict of interest relating to my son was actually taken to parliament. Parliament has cleared me on that. The Ethics Committee of parliament has cleared me on that. The department has disciplined all of those members with the SIU giving evidence. There was no evidence of fraud, there was no evidence of involvement of the minister at the time. ”


Support from other provinces

While Mkhize has the backing of KZN ANC, he will need the other provinces to support him if he is to beat Ramaphosa. As it stands, the majority of support seems to be for the president. However, according to Mkhize, he has a lot of support in other provinces.

“I actually received support from all the provinces. From what I’ve seen the leaders of the different provinces have gone around and discussed and they have found a lot of support for a change of leadership. They offered that they will give me the support that is necessary to win the conference.”

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